Gladiator star John Shrapnel dies aged 77 as tributes pour in

John Shrapnel has died, aged 77.

The actor – most known for his roles in Gladiator and Notting Hill – passed away following a battle with cancer.

The National Theatre led tributes on Twitter, posting: ‘We’re very sad to hear that the wonderful actor John Shrapnel has died.

‘He performed in many productions at the National Theatre, including Phèdre – our first @NTLiveproduction.’

While Richard E Grant – who starred alongside him in How To Get Ahead In Advertising – shared: ‘Sad to learn that John Shrapnel has died.

‘I played his patient in How To Get Ahead In Advertising (1989). Generous, kind, funny and warm hearted.


‘Privileged to have known and worked with him.’

Maxine Peake posted: ‘We have lost another great. The incomparable John Shrapnel. Honoured to have worked with him.

— Richard E. Grant (@RichardEGrant) February 18, 2020

‘Privileged to have called him a friend.’

John was born in Birmingham in 1942, and moved to London shortly after for his education, studying at the City of London school.

He first came to fame back in 1971, with his first screen role playing Petya in Nicholas and Alexandra.

The actor also played a PR chief in classic rom-com Notting Hill, with Julia Robert and Hugh Grant, and appeared in the live adaptation of Disney’s 101 Dalmations.

But his most notable role was as Senator Gaius in 2000 epic Gladiator, starring opposite Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix.

As well as on-screen credits, John was a respected theatre actor and trod the boards of many plays for the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as stints for Laurence Olivier’s National Theatre Company.

His final TV appearance came back in 2017, when he starred in King Charles III.

John is survived by wife Francesca Bartley, and their three sons, Joe, Lex and Thomas.

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